The trophy cabinet is filling and yet it’s only whetting the appetite for more success in the San Carlo camp, with the gelding a tearaway leader of the Trots Country Cups Championship.
His tough PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup victory on Saturday was a satisfying fillip for trainer Stephen O’Donoghue and reinswoman Rebecca Bartley after a promising TAB Inter Dominion campaign faded in the final moments.
While the camp remains determined to scratch that Group 1 itch, the fact their boy was back and in top health last Saturday was the most pleasing factor for owner John Eichhorn.
“We were nervous, but we broke the track record and we were really happy,” Mr Eichhorn said after San Carlo registered a third Group 2 victory of his career.
“We aimed for the Inter Dominion and didn’t have luck with the draws in any of the heats. We got into the final and thought that he’d go all right, but he got into the death and just stopped in the back straight.
“We thought something was wrong and the vet scoped him and found he had a lung infection. We had no idea that was the case before the race.”
A course of anti-biotics cleared the illness, though there was still some apprehension heading into Bendigo, when Bartley used some petrol to roll to the front and survived challenges from Let It Ride and Stroke Of Luck to score a third country cup of the season.
“With the barrier draw he had to work hard to get to the lead, but he didn’t let up,” Mr Eichhorn said. “When he was attacked after the final turn I was a little concerned but then he started to get away again. It was really exciting, he’s just a non-stop trier.”
He will be well-conditioned to improve on that performance in Saturday’s Neatline Homes Shepparton Gold Cup, and will need to be given the presence of fellow Inter Dominion finalists Our Uncle Sam and Im Pats Delight, as well as a rematch against Grand Circuit winner Let It Ride.
Mr Eichhorn said “I think he can win, for sure”, but added “it’s probably a bit of a harder race than Bendigo”.
“We will have our work cut out, but we will be a bit tougher than Bendigo, where he couldn’t work as much as we would have liked in the lead-up due to the infection.”
Mr Eichhorn said Saturday night would likely be San Carlo’s final hit-out before the February 2 Del-Re National A. G. Hunter Cup, a chance to add a Group 1 at his seventh attempt to couple with three Group 2 and three Group 3 trophies.
“It’s the big aim. It is going to be a very hard to win because there will be a lot of good horses. We will keep aiming for the big race win. You just hope you get a bit of luck and if all goes well he is going to go very close.”